There’s still much we don’t know about COVID-19 or how the virus can affect several systems throughout the body. This includes the vestibular system, which can impact hearing and balance and contribute to disorders such as vertigo or tinnitus. That’s why it’s important to review some of the lesser known, albeit still possible side effects of COVID-19.
Hearing Loss and COVID-19
Like many viruses COVID-19 has the potential to impact the ears and hearing. In the U.K., a survey of coronavirus patients found that nearly 1 out of 10 COVID-19 patients reported some form of hearing loss weeks after recovery. Another case study from the Mayo Clinic describes a German man who experienced profound hearing loss after developing COVID-19 related pneumonia.
Another study from the American Journal of Otolaryngology examined the before and after results of at least 20 people who tested positive for the coronavirus. Out of those individuals, the test results showed that even in asymptomatic cases, COVID-19 could have “deleterious effects” on the small hairs that make the inner ear function.
Overall, it appears that there might be a correlation between new hearing loss and recovery from the virus.
Tinnitus and Vertigo
There have also been a few studies that look at the relationship between COVID-19 and tinnitus and vertigo. A study published this November in the journal Frontiers in Public Health found that 40% of people who had symptoms of COVID-19 also experienced a worsening of tinnitus symptoms. This data comes from more than 3,000 patients who self-reported changes to their hearing since the start of the pandemic.
Another study in Iran from June looked at six Covid-19 patients with mild clinical symptoms of cough, fever, and trouble breathing. Each had no relevant records of medical or hearing concerns. Yet, after contracting Covid-19, their hearing suffered. Four had tinnitus (noise or ringing in ears), two had vertigo (hearing-related loss of balance) and all had mild-to-moderate hearing loss in one ear.
Play it Safe
It’s clear that there have been documented cases of abrupt changes in hearing for those infected with coronavirus. All viruses can cause change in the inner ear (labyrinthitis) or the hearing and/or balance nerves (neuronitis). Hearing and balance loss have significant impact on the emotional health of individuals.
If you contracted COVID-19, we recommend getting a hearing evaluation once you’ve fully recovered. That way any new hearing loss can be detected early – when it’s easiest to treat.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us at (503) 581-1567.